This week’s article is for everyone who feels like as you move toward Spirit, you move away from your significant other.
Especially for women married to guys who think all this spiritual stuff is “hocus pocus,” because they only believe what they can see, hear, and touch. Or who say they get it but don’t integrate it into their lives the way that you have.
I’ve worked with a number of women who fit this type of pattern. They’ve gotten frustrated, often afraid for their marriage, because they sense a growing chasm between themselves and their husbands. Their spiritual journeys have led them not only to a different understanding of the Universe and God but to a different understanding of themselves. They no longer feel like they’re walking the same path as their husbands, and they’re either freaked out by the fear that the relationship will end or hiding behind false acceptance, just waiting for the drama to play itself out.
I’ve also seen a significant number of my female friends leave their husbands in the last two years. They did what was right for them for their own reasons, and leaving might be right for you. But if you’re unsure, or looking for a way to stay, I hope what I share here can help.
My own story
This topic is deeply personal for me. My relationship with my husband has been up and down and nearly broken several times because of my spiritual journey. He married someone who was agnostic like himself but who has become a spiritual healer and ordained minister – that’s a lot of change!
Thankfully, today I feel like we’ve made it to solid ground, and I’m ready to write about what we’ve learned – insights that until now I’ve only been sharing with my private clients.
This is a list of eight discoveries that my sweetie and I made along the path of saving our marriage. It’s not a perfect formula, but it’s a pretty good start. Today I’m giving you only the first four because I want you do be able to digest each of them; in next week’s article I’ll share the other four.
I’m calling them “discoveries” – not “rules,” “guidelines,” or “to-dos” – because the truth is that they only work from within. You need to discover them for yourself; I’m just giving you a really good map.
Discovery #1 – Put your attention on what you want
My epiphany came at 2:00 AM while I was talking with my roommate at a business retreat: “I think more about leaving him than on making it work.” It was true: I talked all the time about how miserable I was and daydreamed about living on my own. With all the energy I was putting into creating it, a breakup was inevitable.
Until My 2AM Epiphany, I had been mistakenly looking for someone to make me want to stay. Sure, there was healing that required someone’s help, but in the end it was up to me to take conscious action, just like anything else I wanted to create.
I went home from that retreat with one simple commitment: Tto have more thoughts each day about restoring my marriage than ending it.
Discovery #2 – Focus on what you have in common
My sweetie and I had our first date on November 30, 1996, and we’ve been together ever since. One mistake we were making was acting as if what we had in common 16 years ago should still be there.
Along my journey from agnostic to spiritual healer and minister, spirituality became a really big thing that we didn’t have in common. At some point we both became aware of how much attention we were putting on that difference, and started focusing instead on our common loves: music, off-color humor, and all things Seth MacFarlane. In the shittiest weeks of our relationship when we felt most apart, sitting down to watch “Family Guy” was something we still did together. [I pause to imagine how many hits this article would get if I titled it, “How Seth MacFarlane Saved My Marriage.”]
Part of this discovery has been letting go of the commonalities we no longer have and finding new ones. For instance, my sweetie and I used to travel to an Opening Day baseball game at a different ballpark each year; now baseball bores me and ballpark food makes me a little sick. We’ve stopped going to games together, but in their place we’ve explored our common love of music and gone to more concerts, including exploring some new artists and genres together.
Discovery #3 – Keep spiritual friends and activities in your life
My sweetie and I have never been the “must do everything together” sort of couple; we’ve always had our independent interests. Even so, with my spiritual life becoming so important to me, it was hard to not have that as something we shared. After all, he is my soul mate, my spiritual partner; shouldn’t we have the same idea of what that means?
Here’s some clarity that helped me: Our souls know what’s what, and “soul mate” means souls that are mated. Earthly spiritual pursuits are what bring our intellect in line with our soul’s knowing, and no intellectual discovery can separate two souls that are joined.
With this clarity I gave myself permission to attend meetups, workshops, and retreats with other friends – activities which in turn helped me be a better spiritual partner to my sweetie. And I make sure I’m balancing those activities with time at home.
Discovery #4 – Re-learn how to communicate
Forget about finishing each other’s sentences; when my sweetie and I first got together, we wouldn’t have to start a sentence. When we worked together in the kitchen, he’d hand me what I needed before I even asked for it. When I realized this magic had disappeared, I mourned it for over a year.
There have been a lot of other signs that we’re not on the same wavelength. That’s literally what happens: As people change so do their vibrations, and they can get out of sync. When this happened to us we didn’t know it, so we still interacted as if we knew what the other was thinking – except that we were often totally wrong. That resulted in a lot of hurt feelings which added to the distance between us.
Closing this divide has required a new approach to communication that includes 1) explicitly saying what we think – the whole thought, and sometimes being explicit about what we’re not thinking, and 2) asking the other person to elaborate before we jump to conclusions. At first it felt really unnatural, but now it’s become second nature. We share more than ever and that feels really good to me.
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I’d love to hear from you in the comments below if any particular discovery resonated with you, and if you’ve discovered anything in your relationship journey that might help other readers. And I look forward to sharing the rest with you in Part 2.